The Blue Jays head down to the Little Trop of Horrors, looking turn their luck around on this Friday the 13th, as they open a three game series against the Rays. Gametime for tonight is 7:10 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
The Jays will turn to their Ace Kevin Gausman to help put an end to their pain. Gausman, who was brought in to replace the guy who won the Cy Young Award last season, is turning out to be an upgrade in the early going. Through 6 starts, he has thrown 38 innings and has pitched to a 3-1 record with a 2.13 ERA. He leads all of baseball with his 2.2 fWAR, thanks to an incredible 0.78 FIP based on allowing just 1 walk so far and no home runs. Those amazing numbers will obviously regress closer to a more normal output, but there’s no reason we can’t enjoy this dominance while he’s got it.
Young righty Drew Rasmussen will get the start for the Rays. Rasmussen has found himself a home in the rotation for the Rays after starting his career in bullpen. But after finishing with 8 starts in the rotation in August/September, he has opened up this year in the rotation as well and has thrived. Through 6 starts, he is 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA. His first couple starts he was limited in how much he could throw thanks to the short spring training, with his pitch count maxing out in the 60s. His last 3 starts he has been in the 80s, and has thrown a combined 16 innings, winning all 3. Overall, he has been quite good, and continues to get better as the season is going.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
The frustration continued to rise earlier this week as the bats continued to struggle with runners in scoring position, going a combined 1-13 in the short series in New York. They’re now hitting an abysmal .181/.263/.298 AS A TEAM with runners in scoring position this year. Chris Black has a great thread on what they’re doing wrong.
Long #NextLevel thread on #BlueJays struggles with runners in scoring position this year.— Chris Black (@DownToBlack) May 12, 2022
What we know:
2021: .811 OPS w/RISP (3rd in MLB)
2022: .561 (30th)
Unlucky. Bound to change
My reaction to prevailing wisdom:
Reductive & inaccurate
Let's start here: pic.twitter.com/h9OZUp2zKN
The good news is that at least a decent portion of the problem is obvious - they’re swinging at pitches they shouldn’t be, especially when they shouldn’t be in such a desperate state to put the ball in play. A lot of announcers will call that “pressing”. As Chris puts it, they need to make much better swing decisions. I was hoping Monday’s off day would help them focus on that, but since they went 1-13 following the off day, I’ll be hesitant to believe yesterday’s off day will change anything either.
On what to expect for the lineup today, pretty much entirely normal throughout. I would expect catcher and DH to be occupied by Alejandro Kirk and Zack Collins, but I’m not sure who will be in which position. Otherwise they should be going with the regular starters in all of their regular fielding positions tonight.
So far on the season, the Rays as a team are hitting .237/.305/.381 (111 wRC+), sitting just outside the top 10 in baseball with 4.28 runs scored per game. The one thing to really watch out for is that they lead the Majors with 27 stolen bases, and will likely push that envelope, especially if Zack Collins is behind the plate.
The legend of Wander Franco is going to be building for quite some time. As a 21 year old now, he’s hitting a robust .304/.328/.488 (145 wRC+), striking out in just 9.9% of his plate appearances. He certainly has some areas he can improve and probably will continue to do so, but this kid is everything he was advertised to be. Prepare to be frustrated.
Manuel Margot has been a ridiculous surprise for the Rays this season. After posting a career best line of .254/.313/.382 (95 wRC+), the 27 year old is hitting .337/.400/.500 (175 wRC+) so far this year. While he did miss a couple games earlier this week with a tight hamstring, the expectation is that he’ll be good to go for tonight’s game.
On the opposite end of things, Mike Zunino, who had a career year last year with a .216.301.559 (134 wwRC+) line, is hitting just .138/.197/.292 (49 wRC+) and is starting to lose some playing time to Francisco Mejía.
Giancarlo Stanton went 3-4 with a pair of home runs and 6 RBI, netting himself the Monster Bat award. He was a pretty big part of the Yankees’ offensive outburst, as they beat the White Sox 15-7. The homers came early for Stanton, helping the Yankees to an early lead, but after the White Sox fought back, it was a 2-run 8th inning single by Stanton that helped bury the White Sox for good. As a result of all of those big hits, Stanton also takes home the WPA King with a .441 mark.
Elsewhere for New York’s dominating teams, Taijuan Walker went 7 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits while walking 1 and striking out 1. He takes home the Pitcher of the Day award as his Mets beat the Nationals 4-1.
Find the Link
Find the link between Drew Rasmussen and Kyle Funkhouser.